KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Texas Health Assistance Program Closing

A selection of stories from Maryland, New York, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Washington and Massachusetts.

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Seniors See Reduced Prescription Coverage
A reduction in prescription drug coverage under last year's state budget cuts means 292,000 New Yorkers will now be paying more at the pharmacy (1/2).

The Washington Post: Texas Consumer Health Assistance Program To Close After Losing Federal Funding
It was a first for Texas: a state office devoted to consumers struggling to find affordable health insurance coverage. With funds from the federal health reform law, the Texas Consumer Health Assistance Program was launched last January (Kliff, 1/1).

The Texas Tribune: What Will 2012 Hold for Texas Politics, Policy?
The new year will determine how Texas proceeds with two contentious public health matters: family planning and the state's huge uninsured population. ... It's a game of who will blink first, with cancer screenings and birth control for some 130,000 low-income Texas women hanging in the balance (Ramshaw, 1/1).

McClatchy Newspapers: Florida Continues To Fund Dangerous Assisted Living Facilities
Though Florida law gives regulators the power to stop giving Medicaid money to homes caught abusing and neglecting residents, McClatchy Newspapers found that regulators routinely funnel millions every year to some of the state's most dangerous facilities. Since 2007, the Agency for Healthcare Administration has doled out more than $23 million to nearly 90 homes that could have been cut off from public dollars — including facilities where caretakers were caught beating and sexually abusing frail elders (Sallah and Miller, 12/30).

Modern Healthcare: Fla. Panel Recommends Diminished Role For Public Hospital Districts
A special commission created by Gov. Rick Scott on Florida public hospitals is recommending that local taxing districts create more transparency, start paying providers other than hospitals, and develop publicly accountable ways to sell government-owned health care facilities (Carlson, 12/30). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Florida Grappling With Questions About Taxes For Indigent Care (Hatter, 12/6).

Modern Healthcare: Ky. Governor Rejects Proposed Hospital Merger
Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear rejected the merger that would have united the University of Louisville's hospital with two Kentucky affiliates of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives. ... The $620 million proposal would have created a 15-hospital system ... Some local opponents questioned whether University Hospital would uphold its commitment to charity care after the merger (Selvam, 12/30).

The Seattle Times: New Prescription Monitoring Draws Complaints
Beginning Wednesday, pharmacists, doctors and other prescribers will be able to see all such drugs a patient is getting anywhere in the state, even if the person pays with cash. ... It's not that doctors and pharmacists hate it — on the contrary, many lobbied for such a program and supported the 2007 bill. But they were assured, with a provision in the law, that they wouldn't have to pay for it (Ostrom, 12/2). 

Boston Globe: Adding Milton Hospital, Beth Israel Enters New Era
Massachusetts health care providers and insurers have been scrambling for two years to forge alliances and gain scale in anticipation of new state and federal laws that are expected to favor larger medical networks, with the idea they can better manage patient care and costs. In that context, the Milton acquisition is another key step for Beth Israel Deaconess, which has in recent years been quietly assembling a network of hospitals and doctors (Weisman, 1/3).

The Associated Press: 2 Abortion Providers Charged With Murder In Md.
Authorities say two out-of-state doctors who traveled to Maryland to perform late-term abortions have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder, an unusual use of a law that allows for murder charges in the death of a viable fetus (Nuckols, 12/30).

Reuters: Murder Charges Against Doctors Test Maryland Abortion Law
A murder case against two doctors who allegedly completed late-term abortions in Maryland after starting them in New Jersey could be the first to test a state law tied to the "viability" of an unborn fetus. Steven Chase Brigham, 55, the owner of American Women's Services clinics, and his employee, Nicola Irene Riley, 46, were arrested last week after a 16-month criminal investigation by Maryland authorities (Tomassini, 1/2).

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